Do you have dental insurance? If you do, you could be overspending on the insurance. There are other, affordable options that can help you save money on dental costs. One popular option is a discount dental plan. Never heard of a discount dental plan? In this article, we discuss the 8 reasons why a discount dental plan is better than dental insurance.
There Is A Need For Affordable Dental Services
It’s a fact. Many Americans don’t have dental insurance. According to the National Association of Dental Plans, 74 million Americans do not have dental insurance. The reasons are many, but the main reason is the cost is too high versus the benefit derived. Other reasons include not having a dentist in the network.
That 74 million number has decreased in recent years, thanks in part to the ACA; however, those people age 65 and over increased. Why? Medicare traditionally does not cover dental services (vision and hearing, too). Some plans may cover cleanings and preventative care. Basic or major services such as fillings and bridges aren’t covered.
But, think about what this all means. That means because of the cost, people don’t go to the dentist for much needed services. That shouldn’t be the case.
How Does Traditional Dental Insurance Work?
Traditional dental insurance operates similarly like health insurance.
You pay a monthly premium. This premium can be $30 to $60 per month for an individual and over $100 for a family.
There can be an underwriting process. Dental insurance usually limits pre-existining conditions. One way they do this is by establishing a long waiting period before services begin.
There are annual caps on the insurance. With dental insurance, the cap might be $1,000 or $1,500 cap. This is the limit the carrier will pay in a year towards any services. The cap of $1,000 to $1,500 is usually the most common. Once your insurance exceeds this amount, you are responsible for the costs. However, some policies have caps of $5,000 annually. Generally speaking, the higher the cap limit, the higher your premium.
There is usually a waiting period for basic and major services anywhere from 6 months to 18 months. Usually this is a flat waiting period although some plans have tiered waiting periods due to the type of service.
There is a limit on the number of services, too. For example, you may be limited to only 2 cleanings per year when 3 could be more beneficial to you.
Insurance usually covers cleanings and x-rays at 100%. You don’t pay any out-of-pocket for preventative services.
There is a deductible, too. The deductible can range from $50 per person or $150 per family, for instance.
After you pay the deductible, the insurance kicks in. Your dentist has a contract price agreed with the carrier.
Example Of Dental Insurance
For example, let’s say you need a cavity filled. You pay $45 per month for your plan’s premium. Your plan’s deductible is $50 per person. For a tooth repair due to a cavity, your dentist’s fee might be $400. Based on your plan’s coinsurance, you might pay $70 to $175 out-of-pocket for the filling.
If this is the only dental work you had all year, including 2 covered cleanings at 100% coverage, you may think the dental insurance is worth the money. You will have spent $765 at most ($540 total annual premium + $50 deductible + $175 out-of-pocket).
There Could Be A Better Option: Discount Dental Plans
A better option could be a discount dental plan. What are discount dental plans? They provide you a network of dentists and dental specialists that offer their services at a discount. The discount can be as much as 60% to 70% off the UCR fee. You pay a very low monthly or annual fee. In return, you pay per a fixed fee schedule which the dentist or specialists agrees to. It sounds like insurance, but it is not.
Since a discount dental plan is NOT insurance, it might be a better option than dental insurance. We discuss the benefits next.
The 8 Reasons A Discount Dental Plan Is Better Than Dental Insurance
Here are the reasons why a discount dental plan could be better:
(1) You pay a low monthly fee, such as $9 per month or $89 to $120 annually depending on the plan. Contrast this cost with that of dental insurance, which usually costs between $30 and $60 per month for an individual.
(2) There are no deductibles. None. Nada.
(3) There are no limits to the number of services each year. With traditional dental insurance, you are limited to the number of cleanings or procedures. For example, you can get your teeth cleaned 4 times per year if you want!
(4) No annual caps. This is because you pay a fee (and you still pay a fee for insurance, too).
(5) You pay per a fixed fee schedule. The benefit is that you know, beforehand, how much services will cost. You can plan accordingly.
(6) No waiting periods. Your services begin immediately. You have day 1 benefits. You won’t be stuck in a waiting period as with dental insurance.
(7) No underwriting.
(8) Many discount plans offer additional benefits (for an additional cost) such as vision, hearing, telemedicine, prescription drugs, chiropractic care, smoking cessation, etc.
Example of Discount Dental Plan
Sounds good, right? In our previous example, how much would the services cost if we used a discount dental plan?
In this case, we go to the dentist twice per year for cleaning and evaluation, one set of bitewings, and the tooth repair for a cavity. The dentist’s fees are $55 for cleanings and evaluations, $48 for bitewing x-rays, and $150 fee for a cavity fill. You could have spent $397. ($89 annual fee + 2 X ($55 for cleaning and evaluation) + $48 for bitewings + $150 for the cavity repair)
The difference is almost $400. Will you save this amount every time? No! But, we do think on the whole, a discount dental plan can provide savings over a traditional dental insurance plan.
Our recommendation: if you select a discount dental plan, create a “bank” for your savings. That way, you will have money available WHEN you do have to pay out-of-pocket. And, you will.
Who Can Use Discount Dental Plans?
The short answer: anyone.
The following individuals could need a discount dental plan:
♦ employees who are fed up with paying a high monthly premium for your group dental coverage
♦ self-employed people who need an affordable option for dental care
♦ Medicare beneficiaries as Medicare DOES NOT cover dental work (except for cleanings, at most)
Really, anyone. From young individuals and families to seniors on Medicare, a discount dental plan could provide significant savings.
Are There Any Drawbacks?
There is one drawback that we see. It is common to dental insurance, too.
You have to go to a network dentist in order to generate the savings. Is that problem? If you like your dentist, it could be if he or she doesn’t accept a discount dental plan.
However, most of us don’t care. An in-network dentist will work just fine. And, there could be hundreds within a 10 mile radius of your zip code.
If you are still confused, think of a discount dental plan as joining a COSTCO membership. You pay an annual fee to go to a COSTCO to save money. A discount dental plan is similar. You pay an annual fee to go to a network of dentists who will charge you a fixed fee (per a fee schedule) to save you money.
We hope you enjoyed the article and now know why a discount dental plan is better than dental insurance. Is a discount dental plan right for you? It could be. If you are in the need of a severe dental work, traditional dental insurance might be a better option. However, if all you need are cleanings and some low to moderate dental work – even root canals, bridges, or crowns – a discount dental plan might work.
Where to start? We can help determine if a discount dental plan is right for you. We also work with most of the major discount dental plans and can select the right one for your needs and budget. Contact us or fill out the form below to find out more. You can also click here to go to our partner website. You can look at the available plans, the dentists in your area, and the additional benefits as well.
As with anything we do, we only work within your needs, budget, and place your interests first.